[Met Tour] CID:156860

Don Carlo
Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas, Sat, April 28, 1951 Matinee

In Italian

Don Carlo (28)
Giuseppe Verdi | François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle list Italian text as translators?
Don Carlo
Richard Tucker

Elizabeth of Valois
Delia Rigal

Frank Valentino

Princess Eboli
Blanche Thebom

Philip II
Cesare Siepi

Grand Inquisitor
Jerome Hines

Celestial Voice
Lucine Amara

Nicola Moscona

Anne Bollinger

Count of Lerma
Paul Franke

Countess of Aremberg
Tilda Morse

Thomas Hayward

Fritz Stiedry

Review 1:

Review of Clifford M. Sage in the Dallas Times Herald
Mr. Bing and Company Lift “Don Carlo’s” Face

The gay frothiness of Friday night’s “Fledermaus,” was consumed in the passionately dramatic flames of Saturday afternoon’s “Don Carlo,” as the Metropolitan Opera Company presented the second of its four scheduled Dallas productions at Fair Park Auditorium.

Here was shining example number two of what Rudolf Bing, the Met’s new managing director, had accomplished in his revitalization program against the counsel of many’s the old guard, rut-bound operatic connoisseur. Here was an entirely rehabilitated, brilliantly staged, framed and costumed offering of Verdi’s spiritually exalting work, and the faces and voices of most of the principal artists were just as new to Dallas as was the production itself.

To assist him in the ambitious undertaking, Impresario Bing wisely engaged Margaret Webster, who is herself largely responsible for successfully brushing the cobwebs out of traditional Shakespearean staging, and he has never had cause to regret the choice. For the new “Don Carlo,” when first presented at the Metropolitan, raised a sufficient number of blood pressures to start pumping new blood into the then almost ghost-haunted 39th St. institution. And the powerfully compelling, magnificently mounted work appeared to be having the same effect on the majority of the 3,037 opera goers in attendance at Saturday afternoon’s performance here.

True, Richard Tucker’s superb lyric tenor was functioning at peak performance in the title role. Granted, too, that Cesare Siepi, the 37 year-old bass who gave us a crackling Philip II, has one of the most exciting voices we have heard in many years. Further true, the lovely mezzo-soprano of the lovely Blanche Thebom is a thrilling one to hear. But these singers, and in addition, the sometimes equally stirring voices of Delia Rigal, Jerome Hines, Francesco Valentino and Nicola Moscona, were not the only operatic equipment that made the afternoon a memorable one.

Other Elements

The carefully sustained realism, the plausible mood of sacred majesty, of regal power, of religious fervor, of sheer romanticism all magically fused by means of ingenious lighting, tempi of action or movement blended carefully with the minutest of most grandiose gesture; the effective use of technical effects such as the flames that are presumably consuming the heretics – these plus the costuming and settings – were as much of the ingredients of the Broadway theater that Miss Webster, the Met’s technical staff and the costume designer, Rolf Gerard, had injected into the production.

But it is not by any means our intention to detract from the very considerable vocal contributions of the occasion. There was no dearth of inspired singing throughout the long work. In Don Carlo’s poignant love lament, “Io l’ho perdura” Mr. Tucker achieved fascinating lyric clarity and tonal color at the most altitudinous levels. And he thus won the audience to him from the start.

Thebom and Siepi

And Miss Thebom duplicated the feat in her first offering – “Canzon del Vele.” Though there was no comparison, of course, between this and her aria of desperation, and self-deprecation, “O don Fatale.” This earned Miss Thebom a sound response from the audience that was already very much hers.

Mr. Siepi was in every respect the true artist in his interpretation of his aria of profound despondence when at last he learned that Elizabeth, his queen-wife, loves not him but Don Carlo, with that marvelous vocal instrument, Siepi sings “Ella giammai m’amo!” – “I never had her love. No, that heart is closed to me.”

A True Bass

When we heard Siepi sing Mephistopheles in “Faust” last Thursday in Memphis, we thought he was a bass-baritone. But, we find we are wrong. He is, indeed, a true bass. And if the young man is what he is today, we wonder how far he will go by the time he reaches 35 – eight years hence.

And while we are on the subject of bassos, Jerome Hines, a giant of a man in awesome makeup and the scarlet robes of the blind Grand Inquisitor, provided one of the most dramatic moments of the afternoon. It is when the sightless man, dwarfing the King Philip of Siepi, (a big man himself) intones in his resonant and powerful bass the aria “Le idse del movator,” and accuses the King of “seeking with his puny hand the sacred web to rend.”

Philip has asked the Inquisitor to mete out to Don Carlo the most severe penalty even unto death, and though Don Carlo is Philip’s noble son, the church will not interfere with the absolute monarch, Mr. Hines brief appearance is, to us, unforgettable.

“Don Carlo” has seldom been produced in this country during the past two decades. It is, however, an example of the conflict that exits in some parts of the world between the state, the church and the individual. But more important to the opera-lover, it is a work of consummate musical beauty and power, and pageantry.

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